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Gateway One/Peabody Plaza Is Here To Stay

In the 1970s/80s the City of St. Louis sought to keep the Gateway Mall marching Eastward toward the the Old Courthouse and Arch. However, there was no money to pay for it. There were also historic buildings in the blocks — the owner(s) proposed renovating the historic buildings. Another plan was selected:

Downtown business executives and union leaders created Pride Redevelopment Corp. and successfully pushed for a plan to clear the land between Kiener and Serra. Then, they would develop office towers on the north side, facing Chestnut. The revenue from the towers would underwrite costs for a “half mall” on the south side.

Over the protests of preservationists, the three notable buildings were demolished. But because the economy remained in a trough, only one tower was built: Gateway One, the 15-story sore thumb that has irked scores over the years. (Now it’s Peabody Plaza, home to Peabody Energy.) (Spotlight: Building interrupting the Gateway Mall is a mayor’s regret)

The Buder & International were imploded in August 1984, the Title Guaranty was also gone by the end of 1984. The half-mall plan called for four identical buildings — one on each of the four blocks from 6th to 10th.  More detail here.

Gateway One is now Peabody Plaza
Gateway One is now Peabody Plaza
Looking East from Citygarden
Looking East from Citygarden
The historic Western Union building facing 9th between Chestnut & Market was razed in 1993 for a 2-block passive green space as part of the Gateway Mall, later remade into Citygarden.
The historic Western Union building facing 9th between Chestnut & Market was razed in 1993 for a 2-block passive green space as part of the Gateway Mall, later remade into Citygarden.
Another 1993 photo of the Western Union building at 900 Chestnut, with the Gateway One in background
Another 1993 photo of the Western Union building at 900 Chestnut, with the Gateway One in background, left

In hindsight, most acknowledge the half-mall plan was a mistake. It was already dead by 1993, but demolition continued. Had the buildings on the two blocks West of Gateway One not been razed the one half building wouldn’t have stood out so much. I moved to St. Louis in August 1990 — Gateway One was already complete by then, But in 1992/93 I personally argued with architect Donald Royce, telling him razing the two blocks between the Gateway One and the Serra “Twain” block was another mistake. Fifteen years later Citygarden almost makes up fir the bad decision.

Back to Gateway One.

Over the years many have said it should be torn down. I’m no fan on the building, but that’s not going to happen. Ever.

The building sold in 2006 for $65 million. For many decades the building will be too costly to raze for more park space — we can’t afford to redo the excessive park space of the Gateway Mall — we don’t need more.   Peabody has another decade remaining on their lease and the building will remain viable for decades.

Face the facts — it’s not going anywhere. Just be thankful St. Louis abandons plans before they’re finished, otherwise we’d have a total of four.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Never say never . . . similar, but different – in Denver, to expand their convention center, they purchased and demolished an office building that was less than 20 years old (shown on the left in this photo). It’s all about dollars and priorities . . . and I’d argue that St. Louis has far bigger priorities than a) buying occupied office buildings, b) tearing them down, and c) creating more “parkland” or “open space”. https://www.facebook.com/TheDenverEye/photos/a.408273059214582.85088.404626169579271/1031767433531805/?type=3&theater

    • Yes, we do have much bigger priorities — which is why it’ll never be torn down. Never.

      When we built the dome we razed a convention hotel that was only 10-15 years old. But there’s nothing adjacent to Gateway One to threaten it in such a way. It will never be torn down. Never.

  2. KevinB says:

    Good. I’m glad it was built (it’s a very nice building, inside and out) and I’m glad it won’t be going anywhere for more unnecessary park-and-plaza space. Now if a significant portion of the western Mall can be turned over to highrise construction we might have a central CBD spine that somewhat resembles that of a major American city!

    • Justin says:

      I agree its better than park space (downtown has far too much as it is), but it would have been nice if they had kept the title guaranty building instead of building the Peabody building which rather plain. uninspired and unremarkable.

  3. Brian Wittling says:

    the Mall isn’t a bad idea – it was just poorly executed. The roads N & S are often unnecessarily wide, and the buildings fronting it are dead zones. To make this work, you’d need walkable streets, dense retail on the street-level frontages of the high rises, and streetcar loop around it that would get people from the Jefferson Memorial / Landing, to Union Station and out to the Fox & Symphony.

  4. ParallelParker says:

    Building Gateway One was a startlingly inane planning decision. Against better advice, civic leaders wanted an open Gateway Mall, so they tore down beautiful historically and architecturally significant buildings to clear the mall and then immediately filled in (asymmetrically) the open space they wanted by building a pedestrian building in half the space that had just been vacated. This exercise earns an “F” in Logic 101. All of that is before we get to the fact that several of these companies then moved off the mall that they wanted.

  5. rgbose says:

    Replacing the Kiener garages with something more worthy and productive would have a much greater impact


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